Wednesday, 8 August 2012

TRUE BLOOD, 5.9 – "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

I enjoyed "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" more than I expected to, which is largely because expectations are rock bottom this season. It helped that the hate-group storyline came to a decent conclusion, with a shock unmasking of the 'shifter-slaughtering gang's leader that worked well. (It may have betrayed a poignant character for the sake of a cheap shock, but did so in a way I quickly accepted.) The stupid Ilfrit demon storyline also ended, which was a blessed relief, and most of the other subplots weren't as irritating as they've been recently. It still wasn't a good episode, but it was anodyne fun that didn't make me want to open a vein, which is about the highest praise True Blood's getting from me these days.

  • Jason (Ryan Kwanten) and Sheriff Andy (Chris Bauer) were involved in actual detective work this week, although it wasn't anything that would make Hercule Poirot break a sweat. It involved going on the internet and recognising cowboy boots. But what do you expect with this pair of Southern dimwits? Still, I found myself enjoying how the race-hate case came together—with former Sheriff Dearborne (William Sanderson) revealed to be the henpecked lover of Klan-styled "Dragon" Sweetie. It felt like a disservice to his character to turn him into a villain, but they made it work because it felt acceptable Dearborne would be the type of person whose prejudices could be heightened in retirement and with the moral poisoning of a domineering girlfriend. Plus, you could tell there was a good man still in there somewhere, with his doubts about the need to kill a "supe" like Sookie (Anna Paquin). For a short time, this felt more like the True Blood of yesteryear—preposterous and simplistic, but oddly engaging and fun at the same time.

  • It was also a wise to bring Terry's (Todd Lowe) storyline to a thudding close, although a wiser one would be to write him and Arlene (Carrie Preston) out of the show. I was disappointed the fire-demon storyline was resolved by having Terry shoot Patrick; ending the curse with a blood offering that brought balance and justice. That seemed like a questionable and stupid way to end things. It would have been more interesting to have Terry learn something in refusing to kill a man on the orders of another person, which was the mistake that started all this to begin with. I think the writers missed a trick in not going in that direction, to be honest, because it felt ugly to have Terry kill a man to please a woman.
  • Alcide (Joseph Manganiello) had a flashback to when he joined his local wolfpack as a strapping teenager, inducted by his father (Terminator 2's Robert Patrick), while driving to meet up with his old man following his recent expulsion. There wasn't much here to get excited about, as it seemed to be laying groundwork for the remainder of the season—now Russell's (Denis O'Hare) returned to manipulate the wolfpack and took Luna's daughter as a present for lover Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian). Alcide and his father will undoubtedly return to restore dignity to the pack now they're dancing to a vampire's tune again.

  • The Authority storyline's been the key thread of season 5, but I'm losing patience with it now. The whole thing is too convoluted, it feels like the writers have no clear idea what they're doing, and it's kept too many characters stuck indoors. The high-ranking vampires are now keen to embrace Lilith's doctrine and revert to their old ways (i.e. killing humans rather than drinking synthetic blood), but because True Blood's vampires have spent five seasons feeding on humans I don't really feel the change. It's not interesting that Bill's (Stephen Moyer) found religion because he's having visions Lilith (or is Salome possessed by Lilith's "blood spirit"?); not was seeing him scuttle Eric's (Alexander Skarsgård) escape plan. After all, that just means one thing: next week, they'll all be stuck inside Authority HQ again.
  • In the outside world, Sookie investigated the scary vampire who killed her parents, which led her to get entangled in the race-hate storyline after approaching former Sheriff Dearborne with questions, and it was a decent way to get her mixing in another story. The one weakness of the show is how compartmentalised it feels sometimes, as I much prefer it when stories and characters eventually come together in a satisfying and believable way—if only briefly. So it was good to see that happen with Sookie this week. Sam (Sam Trammell) was also involved, going undercover as various animals to locate the hate-gang and rescue Sookie, and that was more enjoyable than I expected it to be.

  • And finally, Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) tried to keep Fangtasia running amidst panic buying of TruBlood, following the destruction of the world's biggest factory by the vampire Authority. More importantly, she met the disgraced Eric's replacement as Sheriff—a moody, long-haired vampire who, to me, looks suspiciously like the vampire who killed Sookie's parents. Anyone agree?
So there you have it. A mixed bag, as usual, but Raelle Tucker's script was substantially better at juggling all the elements that have choked the life out of this season. And it benefited from concluding two big storylines, rather than spin its wheels. The show still has a real problem with pacing (which was never the case pre-season 3), because stories are either so short-lived they feel pointless, or they're dragged out for so long their flimsiness becomes more obvious. The race-hate story may have came out of nowhere earlier this season, but at least it told its story in an acceptable amount of time and had the grace to conclude when there was clearly nothing left to do. Or so I hope. You never be sure with True Blood.


  • Every episode of the show usually ends with a smash-cut to the credits, just as a song (often the source of that week's episode title) starts playing. However, this week, the music kicked in before the credits to support the scene of Eric's dramatic arrest... and, wow, it was terrible. Already a poor choice of a cover song, it felt like someone had accidentally started the music too soon!
written by Raelle Tucker / directed by Daniel Attias / 5 August 2012 / HBO